101. Jessi Shakarian

The Iowa Idea: Jessi Shakarian

“Tell people what you’re excited about.”

In this episode Iowa Idea Podcast, I’m joined by Jessi Shakarian. Jessi is a developer turned UX designer at DIA Design Guild in Los Angeles, California. She is a UX industry writer and public speaker on usability, design, and chess. Her work has been featured in Prototypr and UX Collective. She also writes for chess publications like Chess Tech News and Chessable. Jessi has built the bridge to the chess industry, where she is a consultant and is working on making chess engines more usable. Jessi is currently writing a book about what chess can teach us about building digital spaces.

Jessi shares her journey from writer and coder, to training to become a med tech assistant to UX designer. Through her interests in information architecture led her to better understand Chess. Jessi’s skills, experience and interests converged as she explores chess and working to make digital chess engines more usable and accessible.

We dig into how working on chess and chess engines and how chess can help us better understand exformation, information architecture, usability, and accessibility. Jessi was so kind to bear with me as I nerded out on what we can learn when we start to explore other systems and how that can help us with better understanding our current system. We also explore the importance of understanding, or at least appreciating context, when it comes to design. Jessi’s experience from chess shows us the importance of reflexive learning and how we might improve our craft. It was an honor and absolute pleasure having Jessi join me on the show. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Jessi

Jessi Shakarian is a developer turned UX designer at DIA Design Guild in Los Angeles, California. She is a UX industry writer and public speaker on usability, design, and chess. Her work has been featured in Prototypr and UX Collective. She also writes for chess publications like Chess Tech News and Chessable. Jessi has built the bridge to the chess industry, where she is a consultant and is working on making chess engines more usable. Jessi is currently writing a book about what chess can teach us about building digital spaces.

Links

Site: https://www.jessishakarian.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jessishakarian/

Blog: https://jshakarian.medium.com/

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

100. Mohamed Traore

The Iowa Idea: Mohamed Traore

“No losses, only lessons.”

In this, the 100th episode of the Iowa Idea Podcast, I’m joined by Mohamed Traore. Mo works as a Sales Development Representative for Roboflow, Inc., a computer vision and artificial intelligence startup, based in Des Moines, Iowa. He also works as a freelance web developer, hosts a financial education podcast and serves as Chair of the City of Iowa City’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission. I believe this is a perfect conversation to serve as the hundredth episode of the podcast, as we cover issues of race, restorative justice, technology, innovation, persistence, and continuous improvement.

Mohamed shares his journey – born in Brooklyn, New York in 1995, and moved to Iowa City, Iowa with his family in early 1999 to spending time learning to code, leveraging information and resources at The Iowa City Public Library.

We dig into the power of restorative justice, understanding other people’s journeys and experiences, and explore a Strategic Doing approach to collaboration. I really appreciated the stories Mo shared with me. It was an honor having Mohamed join me on the show. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Mohamed

Mohamed was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1995, and moved to Iowa City, Iowa with his family in early 1999.

His interests include data analysis and processing; questioning conventional wisdom; learning new things and from different viewpoints; watching basketball; studying finance; and helping others where, and when, he can.

He works as a Sales Development Representative for Roboflow, Inc. A computer vision and artificial intelligence startup, based in Des Moines, Iowa, and founded by Joseph Nelson and Brad Dwyer.

He also works as a freelance web developer, host a financial education podcast alongside his good friend, De’Airius Salibi, and serves as Chair of the City of Iowa City Truth & Reconciliation Commission.

Links

How Your Favorite Brands Are Using Computer Vision

Blacksmiths Capital Research, A financial education platform by De’Airius “De” Salibi, and Mohamed “Mo” Traore.

City of Iowa City Truth & Reconciliation Commission

South District Neighborhood Association

Dream City, Iowa City

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

99. Kelly Leonard

The Iowa Idea: Kelly Leonard 

“Meaning is made in moments.”

In this episode of the Iowa Idea Podcast, I’m joined by Kelly Leonard. Kelly is the Executive Director of Learning and Applied Improvisation at Second City Works. His book, “Yes, And: Lessons from The Second City” was released to critical acclaim in 2015 by HarperCollins. Kelly is a popular speaker on the power of improvisation to transform people’s lives. Kelly co-created an initiative with the Center for Decision Research at the Booth School at the University of Chicago, The Second Science Project, that looks at behavioral science through the lens of improvisation. He also hosts the podcast, “Getting to Yes, And,” for Second City Works and WGN radio.

For over twenty years, Kelly oversaw Second City’s live theatrical divisions where he helped generate original productions with such talent as Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, Steve Carell, Keegan Michael Key, Amy Sedaris, Adam McKay and others.

Kelly shares his journey from starting out at Second City as a dishwasher to producing shows, and ultimately serving as the Executive Director of Second City Works. Second City Works focuses on improv’s application in the business world, to improve outcomes and business performance.

We dig into the power of improv and group mindfulness as ways to be a better human. We talk about the role of creativity in the early stages of innovation and divergent thinking, and why it’s important  not to conflate creativity and innovation. Kelly shares how his research on improv led to a collaboration with The Booth School of Business and the “Second Science” initiative. I appreciated Kelly’s insights on the importance of practice and how improv and be a form of practice in entertainment, business, and life. It was an honor having Kelly join me on the show. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Kelly

Kelly Leonard is the Executive Director of Learning and Applied Improvisation at Second City Works. His book, “Yes, And: Lessons from The Second City” was released to critical acclaim in 2015 by HarperCollins and was praised by Michael Lewis in Vanity Fair who called it “…an excellent guide to the lessons that have bubbled up in Second City’s improv workshops.” Kelly is a popular speaker on the power of improvisation to transform people’s lives. He has presented at The Aspen Ideas Festival, The Code Conference,TEDx Broadway, Chicago Ideas Festival, The Stanford Graduate School of Business and for companies such as Coca Cola, Microsoft, Twitter, Memorial Sloan Kettering and DDB Worldwide. Kelly co-created an initiative with the Center for Decision Research at the Booth School at the University of Chicago, The Second Science Project, that looks at behavioral science through the lens of improvisation. He also hosts the podcast, “Getting to Yes, And,” for Second City Works and WGN radio that features interviews with academics, authors and leaders such as Brene Brown, Adam Grant, Michael Lewis, Lindy West, Ash Carter and Amy Edmondson.

For over twenty years, Kelly oversaw Second City’s live theatrical divisions where he helped generate original productions with such talent as Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, Steve Carell, Keegan Michael Key, Amy Sedaris, Adam McKay and others. In 2019, Arts Alliance Illinois awarded Kelly and his wife Anne Libera with their Creative Voice Award.

Links

Twitter: @KLsecondcity

www.secondcityworks.com

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

98. Preston So

The Iowa Idea: Preston So

“Hiraeth”

In this episode of the Iowa Idea Podcast, I’m joined by Preston So. Preston is a product architect and strategist, digital experience futurist, innovation lead, developer advocate, three-time SXSW speaker, and author of Voice Content and Usability (2021), Gatsby: The Definitive Guide (2021), and Decoupled Drupal in Practice (2018).

A product leader at Oracle, Preston has led product, design, engineering, and innovation teams since 2015 at Acquia, Time Inc., and Gatsby. Preston is an editor at A List Apart, a columnist at CMSWire, and a contributor to Smashing Magazine and has delivered keynotes around the world in three languages. He is based in New York City, where he can often be found immersing himself in languages that are endangered or underserved.

Preston and I dig into some of fascinating research and insights from his latest book, Voice Content and Usabilitywhich was released on June 22. This was such an exciting conversation about voice and language as our oldest interfaces. We nerd out on linguistics and paralinguistic phenomena, and discuss the innovation and evolution of language. Preston shares valuable lessons from his work with AskGeorgiaGov, which included accessibility challenges and perspectives on how we might design to be more inclusive when it comes to the emerging world of digital voice interfaces.

It was an honor having Preston join me on the show. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Preston

Preston So (he/him) is a product architect and strategist, digital experience futurist, innovation lead, developer advocate, three-time SXSW speaker, and author of Voice Content and Usability (A Book Apart, 2021), Gatsby: The Definitive Guide (O’Reilly, 2021), and Decoupled Drupal in Practice (Apress, 2018).

Preston has been a programmer since 1999, a web developer and designer since 2001, a creative professional since 2004, a CMS architect since 2007, and a voice designer since 2016. Since 2015, he has led product, design, engineering, and innovation teams at organizations like Acquia, Time Inc., and Gatsby.

A globally recognized subject matter expert on omnichannel content strategy, immersive digital experiences, conversational design, and the decentralized web, Preston is Senior Director, Product Strategy at Oracle, where he oversees developer experience, developer relations, headless CMS strategy, and open-source strategy for Oracle Content Management.

Preston is an editor at A List Apart, a columnist at CMSWire, and a contributor to Smashing Magazine. Named “probably the smartest person working in this industry right now” by Web Content Management author Deane Barker in 2020 and a top influencer in Onalytica’s “Who’s Who in Digital Experience” in 2021, he is also Editor in Chief at Tag1 Consulting.

Preston has spoken at An Event Apart (2020) and three times at SXSW Interactive (20172017 encore2018), in addition to dozens of conferences and keynotes around the world in three languages.

At Gatsby, Preston led the product and design teams for the general availability release of Gatsby Cloud, one of the most anticipated Jamstack product launches of 2019. As Director of Research and Innovation at Acquia, he launched and led the Acquia Labs innovation center, directed groundbreaking voice-driven experiences for clients like the State of Georgia and Nestlé Purina, and drove Acquia’s headless CMS and decoupled Drupal strategy.

Previously, Preston oversaw the Entertainment Weekly website and its development team at Time Inc. (now Meredith), contributed to Drupal’s open-source Spark initiative, operated a lauded freelance web and print design studio with a diverse clientèle across the United States, and directed the most recent redesign in 2013 of The Harvard Crimson’s online edition, the first student-designed responsive newspaper site in the Ivy League.

Preston has given free web development classes in public libraries and in 2017 founded Decoupled Days, a non-profit conference about the future of content management systems, now in its fifth year. He is based in New York City, where he can often be found immersing himself in languages that are endangered or underserved.

Links

https://preston.so/

https://abookapart.com/products/voice-content-and-usability

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

97. L.D. Kidd

The Iowa Idea: L.D. Kidd

 “100% Over Racism.”

In this episode of the Iowa Idea Podcast, I’m joined by Lovar Davis Kidd. Lovar, known by L.D., is a poet, author, dance educator, musician, and fashion activist in Cedar Rapids, IA. He the CEO and Founder of 100% OVER RACISM. L.D. is no stranger to the stage having performed extensively in both dance and musical theatre productions throughout the US and overseas over the last 25 years.

He currently serves as a staff member at Nolte Academy, and as an Adjunct Instructor of Hip-Hop at the University of Iowa. When not teaching or choreographing, L.D. works as a licensed massage therapist and registered yoga teacher at Hands in Harmony in Cedar Rapids, IA, and is the proud father of two energetic boys, Myles & Kohen.

L.D. shares his journey from growing up in Cedar Rapids, to touring the world as a dancer, to being a dance instructor at The University of Iowa. We talked about the leap he took early in his career moving out to Los Angeles and what brought him back to Iowa.

I appreciated L.D. sharing his audition story and what he learned when a dance audition turned into a vocal audition and the importance of confidence. We also explore the power of persistence and importance of seeking and asking for help. L.D. shares the wisdom of Shakira in Zootopia and “Try Everything.”

It was an honor having L.D. join me on the show. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About L.D.

Lovar Davis Kidd, known by L.D. is a poet, author, dance educator, musician, and fashion activist in Cedar Rapids, IA.

L.D. is no stranger to the stage having performed extensively in both dance and musical theatre productions throughout the US and overseas over the last 25 years.

He currently serves as a staff member at Nolte Academy, and as an Adjunct Instructor of Hip-Hop at the University of Iowa.

When not teaching or choreographing, L.D. works as a licensed massage therapist and registered yoga teacher at Hands in Harmony in Cedar Rapids, IA. He the CEO and Founder of 100% OVER RACISM., and is the proud father of two energetic boys, Myles & Kohen.

Links

www.lovardaviskidd.com

https://www.100percentoverracism.com/

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

96. Natalie Nixon

The Iowa Idea: Natalie Nixon 

“Wonder and Rigor.”

In this episode of the Iowa Idea Podcast, I’m joined by Natalie Nixon, PhD. Natalie changes lives through ideas so that people build their creative confidence for years to come, make an impact, and get paid their worth. She is a creativity strategist, global keynote speaker and author of the award winning The Creativity Leap: Unleash Curiosity, Improvisation and Intuition at Work, which has been recognized as a game-changing innovation book by Fast CompanyPorchlight and Soundview. As president of Figure 8 Thinking, LLC she advises leaders on transformation – by applying wonder and rigor to amplify growth and business value.

Natalie shares her journey from growing up in Philadelphia, to degrees in anthropology and fashion, to her career in academia, to launching her own business, to releasing her book The Creativity Leap. Natalie shares the power of daydreaming… which makes me feel a bit better about how I spent most of second grade.

Natalie and I nerd out as we talk about creativity, design, chaordic systems (chaos and order) and how she elegantly weaves all of these together with concepts of wonder and rigor. Links to her WonderRigor™ Lab and a WonderRigor™ tip sheet can be found in the show description. Through the lens of improv and jazz we explore the value of  creativity in many forms, including the power of the remix. I appreciated Natalie’s insights and perspectives on creativity, wonder, and sensemaking.

It was an honor having Natalie join me on the show. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Natalie

Natalie Nixon, PhD changes lives through ideas so that people build their creative confidence for years to come, make an impact and get paid their worth. She is a creativity strategist, global keynote speaker and author of the award winning The Creativity Leap: Unleash Curiosity, Improvisation and Intuition at Work, which has been recognized as a game-changing innovation book by Fast Company. Company,  Porchlight and Soundview.

As president of Figure 8 Thinking, LLC she advises leaders on transformation- by applying wonder and rigor to amplify growth and business value. Clients have included Comcast, Citrix, Living Cities, and Bloomberg.

A hybrid thinker, Natalie consistently applies her background in cultural anthropology and fashion. She began her career in education and as a hat designer. Later, Natalie worked in global apparel sourcing for a division of The Limited, Inc. Previous to Figure 8 Thinking, she was a professor for 16 years. Natalie is an early-stage investor at two social impact ventures. She’s valued for her ability to work at the intersection of commercial value and stakeholder equity.

Natalie has lived in Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Israel, and Sri Lanka and is proficient in Portuguese and Spanish. She is a member of the Forbes Coaches Council, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and is certified as a Foresight Practitioner by the Institute for the Future.

When she’s not dancing up a storm in hip-hop class, Natalie is fine-tuning her foxtrot, salsa, and tango on the ballroom floor. She lives in her hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with her husband, John Nixon, and is the proud stepmother of Sydney.

Links

Free sample chapter of The Creativity Leap : bit.ly/tclfree

The WonderRigor™ Tip Sheet: bit.ly/wrtipsheet

The WonderRigor™ Lab online creativity course

Figure 8 Thinking – https://www.figure8thinking.com/

Natalie’s TEDx Fire – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTS95OchFOE&t=999s

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

95. Jackie Pelland

The Iowa Idea: Jackie Pelland

 “You’re just not that big of a deal.”

In this episode of the Iowa Idea Podcast, I’m joined by Jackie Pelland. Jackie obsesses about leadership. She is a founding partner of the organizational design company, Slingshot25 where she designs and delivers leadership learning programs and provides executive leadership coaching. For 25 years before starting her own company, Jackie was an employee in big telecom and aerospace companies. This means she is no stranger to complicated corporate environments that are controlled by bureaucracy and office politics.

Jackie shares her journey from growing up in small town Iowa, to college, to the complicated and unnecessarily toxic corporate environments. Her mission is to bring humanity and joy to the heart of the employee experience. Her message is consistent and singular: she believes every single employee deserves a great place to work.

We mix it up on leadership, explore the Sunday scaries, and leaders’ ability to deeply impact the lives of those in their organization. I appreciated Jackie’s willingness to share what she’s learned, as well as her positive energy focused on unleashing the power of positive leadership. We discussed how the general principles of leadership haven’t changed in 200,000 years, yet why each generation struggles with learning and applying the lessons of leadership in our complex world. This includes the skills gap of leaders, as well as sociopathology that presents itself in HR and executive leadership. I enjoyed Jackie’s insight that coaches ask questions, they don’t give advice.

It was an honor having Jackie join me on the show. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Jackie

Jackie Pelland is a founding partner of the organizational design company, Slingshot25 where she designs and delivers leadership learning programs and provides executive leadership coaching. For 25 years before starting her own company, Jackie was an employee in big telecom and aerospace companies. This means she is no stranger to complicated corporate environments that are controlled by bureaucracy and office politics.

As big companies keep getting bigger and taking up an ever-increasing share of employment in this country, Jackie’s mission is to bring humanity and joy to the heart of the employee experience. Her message is consistent and singular: she believes every single employee deserves a great place to work. A place where they can discover and apply their natural talents in order to feel personal satisfaction and the thrill of a job well done. There is no question that leaders have an outsized impact on the employee experience – they make or break it every day.

This ability for leaders to affect our lives so deeply is why Jackie has spent her career studying the art and science of leadership. Her studies have brought her to the conclusion that the basic premise of leadership hasn’t changed in about 200,000 years. She believes that what we need from our leaders – a desire to contribute our talents, to be valued and feel connected to others – is roughly the same now as when we lived in caves. It’s these beliefs that drive her irreverent, fun, and welcoming approach to leadership development and make her the designer of unique leadership programs that focus on the essential and often-forgotten truth of leading people.

Links

Slingshot25 website: www.slingshot25.com

My LinkedIn page: www.linkedin.com/in/jackiepelland/

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

94. Miguel Encarnação

The Iowa Idea: Miguel Encarnação

“Look for the patterns.”

In this episode of the Iowa Idea, I’m joined by Miguel Encarnação. Miguel is an innovation thought leader and serial chief innovation officer with experience across industries, including banking, healthcare, international development, management consulting, and higher education. He currently serves as head of data visualization (SVP) at Regions Bank and Financial Corporation.

Miguel shares his journey from growing up in Germany, to studying computer science, to working in early, cross collaboration innovation labs, to becoming a chief innovation officer. We cover his innovation management and strategy experiences and discuss why we’re still struggling with decades old problems of human-computer-interaction. We mix it up on the conflation of new technology, digital transformation, and innovation.

It was an honor having Miguel on the show. I consider myself very lucky to work with and learn from Miguel on many innovation, data visualization, and UX projects. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Miguel

Dr. Encarnação is an innovation thought leader and serial chief innovation officer with experience across industries, including banking, healthcare, international development, management consulting, and higher education. He currently serves as head of data visualization (SVP) at Regions Bank and Financial Corporation, a member of the S&P 500 Index and one of the largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, wealth management and mortgage products and services in the US. His technical areas of expertise include data and information visualization, AI, Human-Computer Interaction, VR and AR. These technical competencies, in addition to his innovation management and strategy background, also form the foundation for his continuing involvement with research and academia as professor of practice and adjunct lecturer of business analytics, innovation, and computer science.

Links

Miguel on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/DrMiguel

Upcoming talks:

Front-End Innovationhttps://informaconnect.com/feiusa/speakers/l-miguel-encarnao/#track-1-indoor-a-collective-approach-to-strategic-innovation_case-study-seeing-is-believing-the-role-of-data-visualization-in-decision-making-and-innovation

Innovation Leader – Charting the Future of Innovation: https://events.bizzabo.com/305703/agenda/session/547216

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

93. John Morley

The Iowa Idea: John Morley

“Accommodate the richness of different perspectives.”

In this episode I’m joined by John Morley. John represents my third interview with Cork natives and reinforcing the strong connections between Cork and Iowa. This Cork troika, Stephen McDonnell, Paidi O’Reilly, and John are phenomenal conversations on collaboration and innovation.  Since the late-90’s John led organizations – large, small and medium, urban and rural, public and private – to support self-sustaining innovation projects where the goals are both ambitious and ambiguous, the challenges complex and resources always limited. John has spent 20 years working in Silicon Valley with global tech titans including EMC, Symantec, Cisco and Hitachi. Throughout his career he has blended competence in sales enablement, customer marketing and innovation, yielding 3x revenue growth year-over-year, new market category and product creation and massive acceleration in complex product process adoption.

John and I dig into his journey from going up in Cork, going to college for political science, working for large global companies, to facilitating lean innovation efforts in Silicon Valley. John and I met through the Strategic Doing community and ever since, I’ve enjoyed the opportunities

John and I mix it up on complexity and innovation, with a focus on effectual innovation. Led by Paidi O’Reilly (episode 90), John, Fran Willis White, Ed Morrison, and I have been exploring at how we can innovate the way we innovate – and focus on what’s the best we can do with what we have. As Fran says, there an abundance of human potential, we just need to unlock these resources. John also shares the wisdom of Barry O’Reilly and Barry’s work on “unlearning” and how we work to maximize clarity and competence. Building on Fran’s insight “method follows intent” John discusses the power of intention. John shares his wisdom about where individuals’ fear and a lack of intent (usually process related) that tend to have negative impacts on organizational culture and outcomes.

It was an honor having John on the show. It’s a joy when I have the opportunity to sit down with John and was happy to record this one. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About John

John has spent 20 years working in Silicon Valley with global tech titans including EMC, Symantec, Cisco and Hitachi. Throughout his career he has blended competence in sales enablement, customer marketing and innovation, yielding 3x revenue growth Y/Y, new market category and product creation and massive acceleration in complex product process adoption.

He was central to the development of the Tech industry’s first Marketing Data Science Lab (at EMC in 2013) using data science and analytics to enhance marketing insights and predictions.  Today he has championed the alignment of design thinking and data science disciplines for the purpose of delivering ever more effective business outcomes.  He teaches Designing Better Business Outcomes using Data Science at Menlo College, CA.

John’s sweet spot is to work with those charged with making change actionable and lasting. He helps teams make sense of complex challenges and to find shared purpose in order to create new value. In doing so he blends techniques including Design Thinking, Focused Conversation facilitation, Complex Collaboration, Data Science and various innovation methods. John is a connector who challenges people to tap into their creativity and to come together to collaborate and create exponential value.

Links

John’s Website:  https://www.johnmorley.co/

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

92. Jason Narducy

The Iowa Idea: Jason Narducy

“Just Start Moving.”

In this episode, I’m joined by Jason Narducy, who Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune describes as “a first-rate songwriter and band leader.” KEXP says “you won’t see more indie rock cred than on the CV of Jason Narducy.” Hailing from Evanston, IL, Jason has recorded and toured with Bob Mould Band, Superchunk, Verbow, and his current project Split Single have a new album, Amplificado, out June 25th on Inside Outside Records, which was recorded at Electrical Audio in Chicago with Mike Mills (bass), Jon Wurster (drums). Jason is also known for having the sexiest elbows in rock.

Jason and I dig into his journey, starting his first band Verboten and playing shows when he was 11 years old. Verboten is credited with inspiring Dave Grohl, of Nirvana, Probot, and Foo Fighters to start a band. Jason shares the process of writing for the musical version of Verboten, which was released shortly before the pandemic; and how that process differs from the way he approaches Split Single songs.  Jason walks me through what it’s like collaborating with Bob Mould (Husker Du, Sugar), Robert Pollard (Guided by Voices), Mike Mills (REM, The Baseball Project), Jon Wurster (Superchunk, The Mountain Goats) and others.

Jason discusses some of the ways he adapted to the pandemic including the unexpected joys of doing lawn shows. We nerd out about Cheap Trick and Bob Mould. I really appreciate Jason’s encyclopedic knowledge of Bob Mould solo shows in the ‘90s. Jason shares some great stories of performing Downed, one of the Trick’s greatest songs, around the world.

Jason will be on tour this summer with the Bob Mould Band, as well as supporting Split Single’s release of Amplificado, and will be touring in the fall opening for Bob Mould solo shows. I’m looking forward to seeing Jason in Iowa City in October.

It was an honor having Jason join me on the podcast – especially during Pride month, as his latest release “(Nothing You Can Do to) End This Love” is a message of love and support to the LGBTQ+ community. Check out the links in the show description for more information on Split Single and YouTube clips on Jason’s coming to grips with the pros and cons of having the sexiest elbows in rock. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Jason

Split Single, the collective project of Chicago-based musician Jason Narducy (Bob Mould Band, Superchunk, Verbow), announces their new album, Amplificado, out June 25th on Inside Outside Records. Recorded at Electrical Audio in Chicago by Narducy (guitar/vocals), REM’s Mike Mills (bass), Jon Wurster (drums), Amplificado is a tight collection of rock songs dealing with the anxiety of living through a chaotic and cruel Republican majority rule and under the limitations of a worldwide pandemic. The new album comes nearly five years after the release of Split Single’s 2016 album, Metal Frames, “a powerhouse pop record that prides itself on tenacious vocals and resolute rhythm guitar” (Stereogum) recorded with Wurster and Wilco’s John Sitrratt, and last year’s acclaimed, Jeff Award-nominated production of Verböten, a musical inspired by Narducy’s now-seminal childhood punk rock band of the same name.

Amplificado comprises some of the tightest, most direct and high-energy songwriting of Narducy’s established career. The opening cut, at first listen, is a marching band instrumental teetering off the rails. The title (“caPtAIN calamIty’S crUde pRocCessiON”) and sound effects are chock full of Easter eggs but the song disappears in less than a minute. The defiant “Blood Break Ground” establishes a story of breaking out from under oppression and finding a new home and purpose. Mills’ bass and backing vocals are on a constant trajectory to the end alongside Wurster’s propulsive power. Narducy’s voice shreds to pieces as he bellows “Condescension comes with a price, tear away all lingering ties.”

“Stone Heart World” and “95 Percent” are a one-two punch of political frustrations and inner turmoil. With its punk rock take on “Lust For Life”‘s beat, the former sounds upbeat and catchy, defying the scathing lyrical take on GOP ethos: “No answers, just a way to keep ten yachts floating on school kids lost hope”.

“95 Percent” closes with “whoa whoa whoa” gang vocals as if Superchunk went through a Springsteen phase. The sparse and vulnerable “Adrift” can barely pick up the pieces left behind from the bombast of the previous 3 tracks. It is a haunting poem of depression and isolation. The cellos and piano played by Alison Chesley mark the first time Jason and Alison have recorded together in 22 years (the last Verbow album was tracked in 1999).

“End This Love” is a message of love and support to the LGBTQ+ community. “She loves her and he loves him, there’s nothing you can do to end this love, A or B or AB or O, we are all one of these four”.

Links

Split Single http://www.splitsinglemusic.com/

Jason on Twitter https://twitter.com/SplitSingleband

Jason on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/jasonnarducy/

Sexiest Elbows Part 1https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9l5Wzq2dEc

Sexiest Elbows Part 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PUdnT5UFzk

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/).

The Iowa Idea Podcast theme music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).